Since her birth, I’ve been working with Crystal, our little red baby burro. She thinks she’s a people or I’m a donkey…I’m not sure which. But she is totally fearless. And she’s already trained to lead, pick up all four feet and come when called. (Hey, that’s better than a lot of kids I know!) I’ll be teaching her to wear something light on her back soon too. When you work with a youngster from the start like this, they become trained so they never even know it happened.

Our Friesian filly, Ladyhawk, is also very much handled. She isn’t the slightest bit afraid of bulldozers, “helping” Will work in our fields. We have to shoo her out of the area. Nor is she spooky around chainsaws, tractors, or ATVs. That’s a good thing when you’re riding or driving on a roadside.

Besides working with our equines, I’ve been starting to set tomatoes out in the garden, in their Wallo Waters. Wow have our tomatoes every grown this year. Most are 10″ to 12″ tall already…with no sign of blossoms, which is a good thing. I’m planting them deep so they can grow roots along their stems. This will help them produce more tomatoes for us. Now if we just don’t get a freeze in July or hail, or…


Readers’ Questions:

Growing flowers and vegetables together

Due to limited garden space I am utilizing every piece of front, back and side yard to grow as many vegetables as I can interspersed with flowers. Do you know of any particular flower species not to grow with tomatoes and/or vegetables such as beans and peas? (i.e. hazardous).

Secondly due to my fault in buying a stove with a ceramic stove top, and not being able to pressure can on it, I went out and got a single unit electric burner. Do you have any hints on the best pressure canner to use on a single electric burner unit?

To support the local farmers we bought a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) share this summer and I want to be able to pressure can all the wonderful vegetables that we might not be able to eat week to week.

M. Blaney
NE Ontario

You can plant just about any flowers in among your vegetables. I probably would steer away from castor beans, as they are toxic and could possibly transmit a bit of this to your vegetables (although I doubt it). Mixed flowers and vegetables are a real big thing right now. Enjoy your mixed beds!

I’m not sure a hot plate will work for pressure canning, regardless of the type or brand of canner. I would buy a canner of your choice, then make a dry run ( empty jars filled with water) on it and see if it will get to pressure and stay there. If it does, great. Let me know! If not, you could pick up a propane table top burner unit (Harbor Freight and Northern Tool has them for under $35…I’m sure some local stores do too). This is not a camping, Coleman type stove, but a heavier very plain burner top that can sit on a picnic table, etc. These do work very well for canning.

It sounds like you’ll be busy this summer. Have fun! — Jackie

Dying chicks

My daughter-in-law and I bought chicks at the same time. Mine have been outside for about 3 weeks, she just put hers outside this past weekend. Hers are bigger than mine and look fine. When she put them outside some have died. What’s up with this? None died inside, I lost some inside because they got cold and smothered some of the little ones. Why are hers dying now? Its not cold out.

Donna Higgins
Webster, Kentucky

How old are these chicks? Even if they are feathered out, chicks can need a heat lamp, especially at night. Where yours are “hardened off” by being outdoors earlier in life, hers may be “hothouse” babies, used to warmth and a very protected environment. Have her add a heat lamp to the inside coop so they can access it if they become chilled. (Remember that when they are used to 90 degrees, even 72 feels cold.) Also be sure that the chicks have plenty of dry bedding in their coop as cool, damp earth could also be chilling them. Hopefully after a few days they should be toughened up to the “real” world. — Jackie

Canning sausage

When canning sausage (bulk sausage) do you add liquid? Do you not can bulk sausage? Or just put it in the jars and can?

Belvidere, New Jersey

I can bulk sausage (pork breakfast-type sausage) by lightly frying it until it shrinks and browns slightly, then stacking the patties in a wide mouth pint jar. You can pour off any excess grease from the frying pan, then add water to the pan drippings. I have dry-packed my sausage, but it is now recommended that you add a broth made up of pan drippings and water, filling the jars to within an inch of the top. Pints are processed for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet and have to adjust your pressure to suit your altitude; see your canning manual for directions. — Jackie

Having trouble starting brassicas from seed

My goal it to start all of my own seeds rather than buy from the nursery. I am having very good results except anything in the brassica family. They germinate, but grow spindly and do not develop. They do not dampen off; they look healthy; I use the same starter mix as for all of my seeds. What should I be doing differently?

Eileen Turner
Dodson, Montana

Usually when plants grow spindly they more light and possibly fertilizer. Try putting your brassicas in a sunny spot as soon as they begin germinating, but be sure to mist the flats often as the sun will dry the soil out quickly. A dose of liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro or manure tea will also give them a boost when they are trying to start leaves. Good luck. — Jackie


  1. I just wanted to tell you how wonderful our goat is, and how we would not own anything else. We have started making cheese/ice cream/smoothies/bread and i now send cheese to my two vegetarian sons in richmond Va, they love it.

  2. Nancy,

    Brassicas are “cabbage family” vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Sorry to be confusing! If you can outdoors, be sure to keep out of the wind as this can cause fluctuations in your pressure due to cooling winds. The best of luck.


  3. Thank you for the update on the the “Babies” they are the greatest. Keep us posted with their progress it is like having them here with us. By the way you also have a great smile.

  4. Thanks Jackie – I managed to get a one propane burner on the weekend. I was ready to plan all my bedding plants this weekend but we got frost – frost for our may longweekend is unheard of – my old province of Alberta has snow today and tomorrow! Yeesh what’s happening with the weather. Hope you didn’t get any frost last night.

    Hopefully I can plant my bedding plants (herbs and tomatoes) later this week.

    Now I’m off to find a pressure canner.

    Take care and again thanks for the advice.

    M Blaney

  5. A reader asked you about using a pressure canner on a small healing element. My former husband uses a hotplate every year for his canning outside. (doesn’t heat up the house) He puts up many, many jars of food with great results and luck. Hope this helps everyone. I plan to use my hotplate also this year. I live in a mobile home and about die from the heat inside.

  6. I used to train all my young horses from birth. By the time they were three, you could get on and they even knew about reining. But after a broken lower back, two broken ankles, a broken neck and a hip replacement, my son does the training and he does not have the time to spend that I did. But I can finally ride again after about 4 years of bad hip.
    I don’t breed any more so my youngest mare is 5 years old and untrained. But she will be easy.

  7. what is brassicas? I think I have heard of that term but do not remember.
    I need to get a propane table top burner as I love canned chicken and my husband does not like the smell of canning or cooking chicken at all. So until I get my canning kitchen up, I will have to can them out side away from the house.

Comments are closed.